The Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) is comprehensive clean energy legislation (Senate Bill 2132/House Bill 3624) proposed in the Illinois General Assembly. CUB supports the measure because it would boost energy efficiency, take advantage of the falling cost of wind and solar power, and implement electricity market reforms to protect Illinois consumers from higher energy costs. It is the only energy legislation in Springfield that could actually secure savings for consumers while significantly ramping up renewable energy development in the state.
Why does Illinois need CEJA?
Thanks to a series of groundbreaking clean energy laws, including the Future Energy Jobs Act of 2016 (FEJA), Illinois has gone from having some of the highest electric bills in the country to some of the lowest. But fossil fuel generators—the companies that run coal and natural gas power plants—don’t like how cleaner sources of energy have eaten into their profits in recent years. They are working in Washington and Springfield to stop Illinois’ progress. It is critical that we pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act to preserve what we have accomplished, and improve upon it.
What would the Clean Energy Jobs Act do?
CUB was part of a coalition of environmental and consumer advocates that held dozens of listening sessions across Illinois last year. In these sessions, residents expressed strong support for four policy pillars:
• Cutting carbon pollution from the state’s power sector.
• Moving Illinois to 100% renewable energy.
• Electrifying the transportation sector.
• Ensuring that the entire state enjoys the benefits (including jobs and training) of a clean energy economy.
Taking the feedback from those sessions, CEJA would:
• Implement electricity market reforms to reduce power bills.
• Expand electric and gas efficiency programs.
• Take advantage of the falling cost of clean energy and put Illinois on a cost-effective path to 100% renewable energy by 2050.
• Remove the equivalent of 1 million gasoline and diesel vehicles from Illinois roadways.
• Expand access to clean energy careers across Illinois.
How would CEJA help cut costs?
The bill contains five provisions to help lower our utility bills:
- Electricity market protections
CEJA would put the Illinois Power Agency (IPA)—a state agency in charge of managing the energy purchases of ComEd and Ameren—in charge of running a special electricity market called the “capacity market” for northern Illinois. This market has been needlessly inflating Illinois electric bills in recent years and it’s currently run by an out-of-state organization that wants to change market rules in a way that would favor fossil fuel generators and raise our power bills even more. Why this is important: PJM Interconnection, the power grid operator for 13 states, currently runs the capacity market, which gives generators extra payments for committing to have enough power available when demand spikes. With the support of fossil fuel power generators like Vistra and NRG, PJM has been pushing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to revamp capacity market rules to funnel more money to those generators and raise Illinois power bills by up to $500 million a year. Having the IPA manage Illinois’ capacity market instead of PJM would put the state fully in charge of its own clean energy policy, creating the opportunity to save consumers money while greatly expanding renewable energy investment in the state.
- Energy Efficiency
CEJA would improve energy efficiency programs for gas and electric customers. Why this is important: Energy efficiency legislation over the years has helped Illinois consumers cut their bills by billions of dollars. CEJA would improve upon the efficiency standards established by the Future Energy Jobs Act of 2016 by expanding those standards to gas bills also.
- Reducing peak demand
CEJA would direct the IPA to develop a plan to cut electricity demand through programs that promote energy storage, efficiency, and special rate plans. Why this is important: High electricity demand increases electricity market prices, and forces Illinois consumers to pay for more power plants to be built. That’s expensive. But programs that lower “peak demand”—when electricity demand is at its highest—can help decrease our costs by billions of dollars.
- New rate plan
The act would create a new optional rate plan, called “Time of Use” (TOU). TOU pricing charges participants different electricity rates during certain periods of the day, such as a day rate and a night rate. Why this is important: Customers who have been burned by bad deals from alternative electricity suppliers are hungry for good choices in the market that can help them lower their bills. Past policy developments in Illinois have helped create Hourly Pricing and Peak Time Savings, which both have led to millions of dollars in savings for consumers. TOU would give customers another money-saving option.
- Vehicle Electrification
CEJA would work to remove the equivalent of 1 million gasoline and diesel vehicles from Illinois roadways. The act would provide rebates to residential and commercial customers to increase the development of EV charging stations. It also would create a “beneficial electrification” program that would focus on policies designed to entice people into charging their electric vehicles during times when electricity demand is low. Why this is important: Such policies that prevent a spike in demand have the potential to make the power grid more reliable and reduce electricity bills for everyone—even those who don’t own an EV. In fact, a new CUB study found that Illinois could reap more than $2 billion in cumulative consumer savings over the next decade, if the state implements smart EV policies.
Other important parts of the Clean Energy Jobs Act
• By 2031, it would build enough new wind and solar farms to power more than 5 million homes and attract more than $30 billion in new private investment to Illinois. These 40 million solar panels and 2,500 wind turbines would quadruple the amount of new renewable energy created by FEJA.
• CEJA would create “Clean Jobs Workforce Hubs,” a network of frontline organizations providing workforce training across Illinois for economically disadvantaged communities and former fossil fuel workers.
• CEJA would quadruple the size of the Illinois Solar for All program to ensure low- and moderate-income communities see the benefits of new community solar projects. It would also create incentives to expand access to rooftop solar and community solar projects for low-income communities.
• CEJA would provide a fund for energy efficiency contractors to address health and safety issues—such as mold, asbestos and leaks—that prevent them from completing low-income home efficiency projects. Better efficiency lowers costs for everyone on the grid.
Who else supports CEJA?
CUB is part of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, which supports the legislation. It’s a group of more than 200 consumer advocates, green businesses and community leaders working together to advance clean energy jobs, healthier air, and lower energy bills. The group championed the 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act, which passed the General Assembly with bipartisan support and positioned Illinois to become a national leader in clean energy.
For more information: Keep track of Illinois policy developments at CitizensUtilityBoard.org, where you can sign up to receive action alerts about utility-related pocketbook issues.